Type and Form of Rural Houses in India

Women in the rural area

Women in the rural area (Photo credit: IITA Image Library)

According to dictionary type is a number of people or things having in common traits or characteristics that distinguish them as a group or class” and form is the shape and structure of an object or the body or outward appearance of a person or an animal considered separately from the face or head; figure.

Rural and Urban
There are divergent views on what constitutes “rural areas”, where rural “ends” and urban “begins”. The dividing line is blurred. There is no universally accepted definition and it may be useful to adopt the approach of UN Habitat in viewing urban and rural as a continuum of settlements and emphasize the linkages between urban areas and rural areas. Such linkages often take the form of flows of capital, labor and goods between urban and rural areas. E.g. urban areas are dependent on the import of food from rural areas which are in turn dependent on the urban manufacturing base for goods and high order services.

Farmers in the rural area

Farmers in the rural area (Photo credit: IITA Image Library)

Rural areas are often referred to as those areas outside of the city or urban boundary or periphery where populations are spatially dispersed. Agriculture is the main economic activity that provides job opportunities. In these areas opportunities for socio-economic development are often perceived as limited, leading to the migration of able bodied individuals to the “bright city lights” and leaving a residual of generally vulnerable, under educated, aged and very young population. These households are often largely dependent on social grants and remittances from family members working in the cities.

 Inhabitants of the rural settlement depend for their livelihood upon the exploitation of the soil, small fishing, quarrying, mining forestry caps etc. A typical village has secondary workers supplying services to the primary group of farmers and farm labourers e.g. shopkeepers, teachers, clergymen, the . publican, postmaster, smith and garage proprietor. Besides the village consists of a part of retired people and in part of younger people who live inn the village but go to work in a neighbouring town. The proportion of population in each of these classes bears to the total village population, varies with the kind of farming characteristics of the locality, the quality of the soil, the attractiveness and accessibility of the site and its place within the general settlement pattern.

Indian Case

Nalayanpura, a village in the district of Chhatarpur, India

The individual village may be dominated either by a single crop or a number of significant rural communities some of which may be insignificant on the territorial level. For instance, the Upper Doab, a territory with jat dominance does provide for Muslim, Rajput and Tyagi villages. The region as a whole, is predominantly rural as around 80% of the total population is living in villages. There is a general tendency of greater nucleation of rural settlement in the region.

The distributional pattern of rural settlements and their types in the region are intimately related to its dominantly alluvial morphology and the predominantly agrarian economy. The nature of terrain, type of soils, facilities of water supply have also important role in the development of the settlements. Means of transport is a very important factor in this regard. In the Ganga-Yamuna doab, high fertility soil, more ‘bhangar’ lands, adequate irrigational facilities, and means of well developed transport have given rise to almost uniform distribution of settlements. In ‘Tarai’ area of Rohilkhand-Awadh region, the settlements are, however, unevenly distributed due to high percentage of forests, marshy tracts and seasonal floods, and the villages are located on relatively higher ground. In general the unpopulated villages are a pronounced feature of the Tarai tract due to frequent desertion of sides owing to floods and other causes and the migratory cultivation by the aboriginal tribes. On account of over flooding and changes in the river courses, villages are mostly hamleted and are often located at the points of geographical advantage, such as embankment and river bluffs etc. In the Rohilkhand and Awadh, villages are generally evenly distributed and are located above the flood level.

Their income is constrained as the rural economy is not sufficiently vibrant to provide them with jobs or self – employment opportunities. Women form the majority of the rural population and female- headed households are particularly disadvantaged. Their cost of living is high because they spend relatively more on basic social services such as food and water, shelter, energy, health and education, and transport and communications services. The poorest households also have low levels of literacy and education.

Villagers in India manifest a deep loyalty to their village, identifying themselves to strangers as residents of a particular village, harking back to family residence in the village that typically extends into the distant past. A family rooted in a particular village does not easily move to another and even people who have lived in a city for a generation or two refer to their ancestral village as “our village.”

Patterns of Villages

Villages in India may be considered as a natural outcome of physical and cultural setting. Although they do not possess well-defined shapes and a distinct internal plan, there is some pattern, both internal and external, which can clearly be related to the nature of their site and arrangement. The most common shape of the village is rectangular. One of the main reasons for this pattern is the original rectangular shape of cultivated fields.

Another frequent form of pattern is of elongated villages where one axis of the village is markedly larger than the other. Some natural or cultural forces may be restricting its extension on one axis. This type of situation is often found along the higher ground in inundated areas, narrow strip between two streams and at the edge of an alluvial terrace. Among cultural features most important is the road. If the road is an important link with the surrounding villages or towns, then the elongation is obvious. The extension of a village along the road is often encouraged if the settlement is a market centre. Other common patterns of Indian villages are Fan pattern, circular village, polygonal village, oval village, horseshoe pattern (in plateau regions) double nucleation and irregular clusters.

The distribution of population, setting and type of rural settlements, village patterns are to a great extent related to the natural and cultural features of the area.

 Rural-Urban Connections
Rural housing has been marginalized both in wider policy discussions as well as within the debate on rural issues because rural housing needs are generally subordinated to urban housing needs in policy priority. The important difference between rural and urban contexts is the level of income needed to avoid poverty is the key difference. In urban areas there is a very high proportion of income going toward non-food items such as rent, public transport, payment to water vendors and for pay-as-you use public toilets, keeping children at school, health care/medicines, and informal payments to stop homes being demolished or to be allowed to sell goods on the street.

Livelihoods and Expenditure Patterns
Rural Livelihoods are often drawn from agriculture, livestock, forestry Livelihoods drawn from labour markets within non-or fishing .Urban livelihoods often come from service sector.In urban areas there is a very high proportion of income going toward non-food items such as rent, public transport, payment to water vendors and for pay-as-you use public toilets, keeping children at school, health care/medicines, and informal payments to stop homes being demolished or to be allowed to sell goods on the street.

Demographic Trends and Housing Needs
Estimated population in India in 2001 was 1029 million, a growth of 18.1 per cent from 1991.Nearly 72 per cent of the Indian population lives in rural areas. The total number of households in rural India is 143 million (Census, 2001). Two trends, which will have significant impact on the rural population are (i) declining fertility and (ii) increasing urbanization.

A measure of housing construction activity, in rural India, is the number of new housing completions. During 1991– 2001, 34.56 million new houses were. During this period 25.61 million new households were formed. Translating these figures into number of houses completed per thousand people indicates that while in 1971–81, 3.66 houses were completed per 1000 persons and the figure for 1991–2001 is 4.65. The number of new house construction, at 4.65 houses per 1000 persons, is still quite low compared to urban areas where new completions are around 7 housing unit per 1000 persons.

Urban Housing: Indian scenario
Even as the glitz quotient goes up in the cities, with the number of shopping malls and multiplexes rapidly increasing, there is a less glamorous, but faster, growth of urban slums. Today, one in every seven city dwellers lives in a slum. While the number of slum dwellers has been growing 22% faster than that of the urban population, the number of slums has been shrinking. More and more people are living in fewer, albeit larger and better-serviced, slums.

About 14% of the urban population lives in slums and their numbers are growing faster than those of entire cities. According to estimates, while the urban population is growing at an average 2.7%, the number of slum dwellers has been rising at 3.3%.

The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) estimates that the slum dwellers’ tally has increased over the last ten years. In 1993, 60 lakh urban households lived in slums. By ’02, when the last survey was conducted, the number had increased to 80 lakh households. Take the average size of a household at five, and you’ve got 4 crore of the 28.5-crore people in urban areas, living in pitiable conditions. And if you estimate that even half the population living in slums will vote, its easy to understand why they’re such a valuable asset for politicians.

Slum dwellers can’t really complain that politicians remember them only on the eve of polls. Their votes have been rewarded with improved facilities in terms of drinking water, electricity, toilets and roads. The results of the latest NSSO survey conducted during July-December ’02, when compared with the January-June 1993 survey, show that state governments and the urban authorities under them have not only ensured that a large number of slums are notified, but have also played a significant role in ensuring that basic facilities improve.

In 1993, only about 75% of the slums could claim that their settlements was electrified, even though it may have only been street lighting. The latest survey places that number at 92%, and of this, 69% has electricity for both household use as well as street lighting, while another 18% has it for household use alone. ‘India Shining’, anyone?

Similarly, access to toilets has increased to 67% in ’02, from 46% in 1993. There isn’t any dramatic improvement in garbage disposal, since the number of slums without disposal mechanisms is down to 31% from 35%. However, the availability of water through taps has gone up.

Even as the number of urban slums declined by 8% between the two surveys, to 51,688 in ’02, from 56,311 in 1993, the number of notified slums increased 29% to 26,154 from 20,272, during the same period. That is, of the number of urban slums, including those recognised by municipalities, corporations, local bodies or development authorities, rose to 50.6% in ’02, from 36% in 1993. During this period, number of slum households doubled to 52 lakh from 26.4 lakh, making the slums that have access to better facilities more densely populated.


About Rashid Faridi

I am Rashid Aziz Faridi ,Writer, Teacher and a Voracious Reader.
This entry was posted in Human Geography, Settlements, Urban Studies. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Type and Form of Rural Houses in India

  1. Amit Lakhaani says:

    Great Article!

    We at PRADAN seek to enable the rural poor who can live a life of dignity. PRADAN’s core competency is in the area of sustainable livelihoods. By addressing issues of livelihood, PRADAN has been able to make an impact in the lives of poor communities. Having access to sustainable livelihood opportunities, the poor become less vulnerable to adverse natural and man-made forces.

    Visit more at http://www.pradan.net to read more about PRADAN’s cause.


  2. Pingback: Our Future Cities Must be Designed to Perform like Ecosystems | Rashid's Blog

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